(Little) Buying Influencers (August 2013)

Last month I wrote about customer loyalty and posed the question of whether businesses understood why customers stay with them.  But what influences buyers in the first place?

As a former finance leader at LensCrafters I was one of the key proponents of attracting kids into the buying cycle for their first pair of glasses.  Fortunately, not many children need glasses but getting them into the cycle early can create an enormous value chain.  If you develop a buying habit early, it can be tough to break – particularly if the business provides a great product or service.  

Businesses, particularly retail, need to realize that kids can be tremendous influencers.  Now, they are clearly not making major buying decisions but they can be influential enough to push decisions that are on the margin.  Large companies spend huge amounts marketing to kids but even products and services not marketed to children can be influenced by them.  Here are a few examples (all from a five year old). 

More than once I’ve gone to the car wash with the “rainbow colored soap” because my little guy thinks it’s fun to watch the colors run together.  I can’t help wondering if the soap manufacturer thought of this or if it is just accidental.  

I bought a dishwasher at a Sears Appliance retail store in part because it was easy to shop with a child.  Yes, they have good selection, pricing and service, but they also have a small table, chairs, crayons and coloring book to keep the little ones entertained so that you actually have time to make a buying decision.  

My new favorite place for a burger is Five Star, in part because they serve great burgers and in part because they have a good children’s menu.  

Many businesses don’t have the opportunity (or the desire) to have children help influence the buying decision.  But the broader point of this message is for businesses to stand back and understand the key motivations for customers to come to them in the first place.   What brings them in the door and what keeps them coming back?   What makes a customer loyal to such a great extent that they don’t even consider other options?  What makes a customer choose one business over another in their initial buying decision?    Particularly for this last question, the answer can help formulate a long term buying cycle of substantial value.  

Businesses that understand customer motivations can do a better job of attracting (and retaining) customers.  This translates into top line growth and ultimately into enhanced shareholder value. 

As you think about your business, ask yourself the following:  What were the key influencers that motivated customers to try your business the first time and what is the strategy to leverage the same motivations to attract new customers?

If your business could benefit from fractional CFO services, I would welcome the chance to speak with you.  Please give me a call at (314) 863-6637 or send an email to     For more information, visit www.homza.com 

your cash is flowing.  know where.®    
Ken Homza   

Copyright @ 2013 Homza Consulting, Inc.

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